Updated: Aug 29
This is a letter to a dear friend in response to her question regard my observations of the learning path that I often observe.
Ok, I will try to get this question answered. Great question by the way. The complete answer is an entire book. Please realize, I teach what I am trying to learn. I am always trying to find the line between micromanaging and letting the horse find it. Here are a few of things I've noticed:
-The human's (me) default is to ask too much.
-We are innately late (or miss) in our awareness and therefore our timing.
- It takes one lifetime to figure this out!
-During the struggle to figure this balance out, you will go thru predictable phases:
Phase 1) you don't know what you don't know-The result is a horse that is working in some phase of trouble. Ignorance can be bliss here until you meet a horse that needs more support. The trouble gets the job done, but it is at considerable expense. This is the phase where anger, frustration, false traditions and knowledge, and blaming the horse are prevalent.
Phase 2) The rider becomes aware of the horse's awareness and sensitivity. The troubled frame of mind starts to dissipate. This is the beginning of the phase where one becomes afraid or intimidated by the horse’s sensitivity and therefore becomes less effective. This is where the soft feels plateau. Incidentally, this is as far as the majority of riders get.
Phase 3) You begin to be aware and grow. You begin to see subtle changes in your riding and the horse responding. In other words, you start to learn more from the horse directly. In Phase 1 the horse is carrying most of the water. In Phase 2 the human realizes they are trying to pack all the water. In this phase, the human starts setting it up so that the horse can find his responsibility. Taking the majority of the responsibility is an important part of breaking out of phase 1 above. At this point the rider needs to find out how to let the horse begin to pack more of the water. Set him up and let him find it- Ray's beautiful words.
-You begin to see several chess moves ahead-you rarely run out of ideas on how to adjust.
-The horse starts to feel back to you, and possibly for the first time you see it!
Summary: (1) You my friend are in predictable phases of learning-try to enjoy the process. Your frustration is what happens before what happens, happens!! There will come a point when you realize the harder you work at attaining the goal the more elusive it will become. Working hard within "less is more" is not a contradiction, but the rider is working in a relaxed and reasonably expectant frame of mind (I think, this is the best I can describe it at this point in my learning curve!) Remind me to tell you the story about my expectations of Max if I already haven’t.
(2) This will be a worthwhile but not always comfortable journey. I remind myself to enjoy the painful and uncomfortable parts because those parts will make the contrast of the good times even better and in my case more recognizable.
(3) Finally never forget Tom's words spoken so often, and so poetically, "It is always darkest before dawn." and "The thing you needed first, you will learn last."
Enjoy the journey my friend. #gregelielhorsemanship